Brisk Fiction- Green Cancer

A piece of microfiction this week (which is anything under 1000 words. This one is under 600). It explores a likely consequence of increasing carbon dioxide levels which I rarely see discussed.

In related news, the final rewrites and editing are proceeding smoothly with my novella series (Our Vitreous Womb) which imagines a distant post industrial society where pure biotechnology provides the foundation for a new kind of society. I’m on track to publish in April 2023. I’ll keep you all up to date with progress.

[Eerie music]

[Drone shot pans over the Bangkok skyline]

Voice over: It was here in this bustling, tropical megalopolis that the first infestations of Microsorum lithophytica appeared in the summer of 2023. This unremarkable fern first sprouted along shady drains and bridges, taking root on any damp patch of concrete. A few years later the locals named it “Kiao Mareng” though it is now better known as “Green Cancer”. In this shocking report we confront the activist responsible for spreading this sickness to the United States.

[Pull back drone shot of crumbling, abandoned apartment block covered in vegetation]

(Caption: Dr Ubon Suksathan. Botanist)

Dr Sukasathan: What we are facing is a total rearrangement of the global ecosystem. The atmosphere has changed irreversibly.

[Shot of Dr Sukasathan inspecting culture flask of green gunk]

Dr Sukasathan: The fern was first described last century from limestone gorges around Thailand. The species name… lithophytica… means living on rocks. Then carbon dioxide levels crossed 480 parts per million a few years ago. That allowed the fern to expand into drier habitats, accelerated its growth.

Interviewer: How far do you think it might spread?

Dr Sukasathan: If CO2 levels keep rising… [blinks awkwardly]… everywhere. I can’t see anything stopping it.

[Drone shot of work crews descending side of a skyscraper surrounded by steam clouds]

(Caption: Gus Thongsuk. Building Maintenance Supervisor)

Gus Thongsuk: Green cancer doesn’t only hold concrete. It eats rock. The roots make acid… like Alien. Get away b**ch.

[Gus peels back a pad of the fern and crumbles the concrete with his fingers]

Gus Thongsuk: We never stop work to clean kiao mareng. Steam knives very… effective, but when wet season come spores blow all over. Some company won’t pay extra… maintenance. Later… building is broken. I don’t complain. Always more work to do [laughing].

Voice over: Bangkok is ground zero of the infestation, and it’s fighting a losing battle. Unfortunately for us, the organism recently arrived on our own doorstep, sooner than anyone expected. All thanks to the reckless actions of a few.

[Pan across Georgia State Prison complex. Shot of a female prisoner with cropped hair in orange]

(Caption: Suzette Luers. Sentenced to 23 years for ecoterrorism).

Suzette Luers: What they think I’m gonna to do to you? [Shows her cuffed wrists] Throw some leaves at you? (laughing)

Interviewer: Do you feel any remorse for smuggling spores of the Green Cancer to the US?

Suzette Luers: What difference would regret make? It spread itself to eight more cities since christmas. Capitalism built the bonfire. I just tossed the match.

Interviewer: Doesn’t it bother you that people will be homeless when buildings are destroyed?

Suzette Luers: Humans didn’t give a f**k when they destroyed the habitat of other creatures. Look. Plants are pushing back everywhere since we crossed 480. Tree of heaven, knotweed, kudzu, tumbleweed. Every time you start your car you encourage ‘em grow faster. Ten years tops until that little fern chews through this concrete prison like a rice cracker. What’ll they do with me then? Stick me in a bamboo cage?

[Shot of workers in white hazard suits spraying clumps of fern in Miami]

Voice over: Local authorities are rushing to develop chemical measures to hold back the infestation, but the ferns mature rapidly and produce millions of dust like spores. Scientist are hopeful biological control may prove useful for slowing down the tide, but no candidate species have been identified. Citizens can report any new infestations on the website linked below. We must work together to defeat this menace and protect our homes.

4 thoughts on “Brisk Fiction- Green Cancer

  1. Read this when you first posted it, just commenting to say I really enjoyed it and I’m sure many others did as well! You should post it on all the weird collapse type subreddits too like you do sometimes 🙂


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